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Director: Ben Wheatley Starring: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristen Scott-Thomas Running Time: 121 minutes


Did Netflix, one wonders, agree to distribute a fresh adaptation of Rebecca out of a higher-up’s affection for the source material, or a canny belief that it would make fertile ground to grow acclaim and awards? Or having run the numbers, one might continue to wonder, did they determine that the beautiful faces of stars Lily James and Armie Hammer would be suitably alluring to get subscribers to click on them, and that the title was recognisable enough to squeeze out a week or two in the ‘Trending Now’ tab? The mind tends to do a lot of wandering while trying to take in this latest adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s literary classic, a disappointingly vacant ‘return to Mandalay’ from creative forces that seem to have spent little time in the grounds of this story on their first go around. The result feels like a perfume advert that overstays its welcome to the tune of two hours; stale and lingering.
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Director: Joe Wright Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane Running Time: 125 minutes

When the Bard gets boring, it’s increasingly appealing to distinguished actors to turn to Winston Churchill for their monologue jollies; “we shall fight them on the beaches” being as suitable for performance as anything Shakespeare ever did. Through various films, such noteworthy performers as Albert Finney, our own Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox last year and um…Christian Slater, have donned the bowler hat, stuck up a V-sign and gotten down to speechifying, and now Gary Oldman picks up that mantle. Unrecognisable in impressive make up, Oldman’s turn in Darkest Hour is being put forth as a showcase for the veteran, a big Oscar-grabbing performance in a film that looks, as many do, back at Britain’s ‘darkest hour’ also in some ways as its finest. Let’s not forget, there was literally a film about this exact same time-period titled Their Finest released just last year. Rarely, if ever, do films of this type want to engage with Churchill the racist, the Churchill that sent soldiers into Tonypandy or helped starve India, or set up the Black and Tans and Darkest Hour is no exception, an effort to rouse and court applause and though it’s definitely well-made enough to receive that in some quarters, the film and Oldman’s central performance are both at their best when they tone down the bombast and openly admit just how close Britain came to ruin.

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